Banned Books Week Is Underway | Book Pulse

Banned Books Week gets underway. Wildfire by Hannah Grace leads holds this week. Audiofile announces the October 2023 Earphones Award winners. Seven LibraryReads and eight Indie Next picks publish this week. People’s book of the week is The Museum of Failures by Thrity Umrigar.

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Banned Books Week, Awards & Booklists

Banned Books Week is underway. Shelf Awareness has coverage. Publishers Weekly shares “Banned Books by the Numbers.” Publishing Perspectives writes about PRH’s Banned Wagon TourUSA Today takes a visual look at attempts to restrict booksThe Guardian reports on a North Carolina school disctrict that has retracted a ban on Banned Books Week.

Audiofile announces the October 2023 Earphones Award winners

Esquire lists the best books of Fall 2023.

T&C shares the best classic autumn books.

Amazon editors select the best books of October

The 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature will be awarded Thursday, October 5. LitHub looks at the bookies’ odds

Big Books of the Week

Wildfire by Hannah Grace (Atria) leads holds this week.

Other titles in demand include:

Judgment Prey by John Sandford (Putnam; LJ starred review)

Second Act by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey (Avon)

Dark Memory by Christine Feehan (Berkley)

These books and others publishing the week of October 2, 2023, are listed in a downloadable spreadsheet.

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

Four LibraryReads and three Indie Next picks publish this week:

Hall of Fame pick, Starling House by Alix E. Harrow (Tor; LJ starred review) is also an Indie Next pick:

Starling House has all the excellent, wry writing of A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended. Still, it’s not a fairy tale retelling—just a deeply unsettling story with a house that might conceal the very gates of hell. Leave the lights on!”—Christy Peterson, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Other Hall of Fame picks include My Darling Girl by Jennifer McMahon (Gallery/Scout) and Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey (Avon).

Midnight Is the Darkest Hour by Ashley Winstead (Sourcebooks Landmark; LJ starred review) *good for book clubs

“In this small corner of Louisiana, religion runs deep. As a teenager, the reverend's daughter Ruth becomes summer friends with Everett,and begins seeing the truth through his eyes. Ruth chose to follow the word of the church and stay put while Everett seeks more. However, when a skull is found in the swamp, Ruth begins questioning everything she thought she knew.”—Andrea Galvin, Mt. Pulaski Public Library, IL

The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon (Harper Voyager; LJ starred review) *good for book clubs

“As enemies sworn to destroy one another, Alaric and Talasyn seem like unlikely allies, let alone candidates for a political marriage. This Asian-inspired fantasy series takes all the elements needed for a new world—alliances, royalty vs. rebels, magic powers, a fierce orphan with a secret destiny, and enemies-to-lover tension—then sets them in a world of horrific storms and a kingdom under siege.”—Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, TX

It is also an Indie Next pick:

“In this lush, romantic debut, two mortal enemies are forced into an arranged marriage to save their countries from each other and forces that threaten their world. I loved the intricate world, its politics, and the steamy romance!”—Haley Calvin, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

Let Him In by William Friend (Poisoned Pen Pr.)

“After the death of their mother, young twins Sylvie and Cassia find comfort in an imaginary friend, but their father begins to worry as things escalate. Grief and the paranormal are central to this book, and the story will leave readers questioning reality. This unsettling gothic read will keep readers turning the pages!”—Kristin Skinner, Flat River Community Library. MI

Wildfire by Hannah Grace (Atria)

“This fun summer camp sports romance is a perfect beach read. The characters are complex, and the men (other than the ‘bad guys’) are written to be very respectful of and thoughtful to the women in their lives, whether in friendship or romance. The book is also very sex-positive. Readers who missed the first book in this series won’t feel like they are missing anything, but will want to catch up!”—Jennifer Lizak, Chicago Public Library, IL

It is also an Indie Next pick:

“A fantastic follow-up to Icebreaker. A one-night stand with emotions left on the table leave Russ and Aurora thinking of each other. When the two end up as camp counselors, sparks fly. If you love a good summer romance, this is it.”—Kyle Churman, Werner Books, Erie, PA

Five additional Indie Next picks publish this week:

Company: Stories by Shannon Sanders (Graywolf)

“Members of a big, multigenerational Black family—with branches bohemian and bourgeois—live vibrantly in this debut collection of fiction. Linked together in a glittering chain of language, their stories create a treasured heirloom.”—James Crossley, Madison Books, Seattle, WA

How To Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair (S. & S.)

“This extraordinary memoir explores self-actualization at the crossroads of womanhood and Black liberation. Sinclair’s poetic brilliance brought grace to even her most excruciating experiences. I am in awe of her compassion and transcendence.”—Evisa Gallman, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, Philadelphia, PA

Our Strangers: Stories by Lydia Davis (Bookshop Editions)

“Lydia Davis is in a rare arena of master short story writers. She celebrates language, never using an unnecessary word. Just perfect sentences, unexpected images, and stories that make you laugh and cry and stay with you forever.”—Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ

The MANIAC by Benjamín Labatut (Penguin Pr; LJ starred review)

“One of the most fascinating books of the year. Labatut delivers a terrifying, dispassionate, utterly compulsive amalgam of fact and fiction, raising profound moral questions on unchecked scientific advancement and the dawn of AI.”—Alex Brubaker, Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg, PA

Death Valley by Melissa Broder (Scribner)

“A hike becomes a metaphysical journey straight into the center of grief, featuring literature’s most memorable cactus. Broder delivers us directly to the site of the wound and somehow makes us want to linger. Beautiful, exciting, and profound.”—Kristen Iskandrian, Thank You Books, Birmingham, AL

In the Media

People’s book of the week is The Museum of Failures by Thrity Umrigar (Algonquin). Also getting attention are The List by Yomi Adegoke (Morrow; LJ starred review), and How To Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair (S. & S.). There is a Q&A with Jeopardy star Amy Schneider about her new memoir, In the Form of a Question: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life (Avid Reader: S. & S.). LA Times also shares takeaways from Schneider’s book.

The “Picks” section spotlights Netflix’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, based on the short story by Roald Dahl in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. There are features on Arnold Schwarzenegger and his new book Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life (Penguin Pr.), Kerry Washington’s memoir Thicker than Water (Little, Brown, Spark), and Julie Chen Moonves’s audio memoir But First, God: An Audio Memoir of Spiritual Discovery (S. & S.).


NYT reviews Death Valley by Melissa Broder (Scribner): “Death Valley is a triumph, a ribald prayer for sensuality and grace in the face of profound loss, a hilarious revolt against the aggressive godlessness, dehumanization and fear plaguing our time”; Monica by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics; LJ starred review): “Clowes’s strange, luminous work demonstrates how thick daughterlove can be—and, equally, how apocalyptic”; A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand (Mulholland): “Like Jackson, Hand offers no explanation for Hill House’s malevolence, preserving the original novel’s power and mystery”; Mapping the Darkness: The Visionary Scientists Who Unlocked the Mysteries of Sleep by Kenneth Miller (Hachette): “Miller’s narration of the subject is commanding, bright and deft. His prose cuts and flows through the last century of impossibly complex stop-start progress in the measuring and quantifying of sleep”; Brutalities by Margo Steines (Norton): “What elevates Steines’s book above the difficult, often extreme experiences she shares is her willingness to look honestly and objectively at her desires”; and Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet by Taylor Lorenz (S. & S.): “Lorenz has a beat reporter’s eye for detail, which can occasionally be overwhelming.” Washington Post also reviews: “Lorenz gives us a clear and compelling history of how the money came to flow into amateur-made short video content. But the book can’t quite prove that we’ve lived through a true revolution.” Plus Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and the Washington Post by Martin Baron (Flatiron): “Less a traditional memoir than a closely observed, gripping chronicle of politics and journalism during a decade of turmoil.” Washington Post also reviews: “About two-thirds of the way through, Collision of Power becomes a memoir of aggrievement, an unexpected turn for a titan of journalism who stood up to some of the darkest forces in American history.”

Washington Post reviews The Most Secret Memory of Men by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, tr. by Lara Vergnaud (Other Pr.): “This is a novel by a lover of books, for lovers of books, and like any true love it demands nothing short of surrender”; Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell by Sy Montgomery (text) & Matt Patterson (illus.) (Mariner): “Like all of Montgomery’s work, then, Of Time and Turtles is a book that will make you want to be not a better human but a better animal”; and Shakespeare in Bloomsbury by Marjorie Garber (Yale Univ. Pr.): “In partitioning Woolf’s works into individual subsections and treating them chronologically, itemizing their explicit and covert references to Shakespeare, Garber rarely allows her material to do more than simply to accumulate.”

Briefly Noted

Ed Begley Jr., author of the new memoir, To the Temple of Tranquility...And Step On It! (Hachette), discusses ghostwriting and more for NYT’s “My Ten.”

LA Times has an interview with Sarah Cooper about her new memoir, Foolish: Tales of Assimilation, Determination, and Humiliation (Dutton).

Washington Post talks with Donna Leon about her new memoir, Wandering Through Life: A Memoir (Atlantic Monthly).

LL Cool J, rapper and author of the new book, The Streets Win: 50 Years of Hip-Hop Greatness, written with Vikki Tobak & Alec Banks (Rizzoli), discusses his portrait that is currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery, with People.

CrimeReads suggests 10 new books for the week.

LitHub highlights 23 paperback books for October

Theoretical physicist, mathematical biologist, and feminist theorist Evelyn Fox Keller dies at 87.  NYT has an obituary.

Authors on Air

CBS Sunday Mornings talks with author Hernan Diaz about his Pulitzer Prize–winning novelTrust (Riverhead). Also, Marty Baron, Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and the Washington Post (Flatiron), discusses the role of journalists.

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